ORNL Recent College Graduate Research Profile:
Intern Helps Launch Latest Version of Sophisticated Software
Aaron Fleckenstein demonstrates how the software program Javapeño can help find interesting characteristics in statistical data related to nuclear physics.
Although not yet a graduate student, Aaron Fleckenstein is already well ahead of his peers with an impressive track record of publications, all relating to his work on a sophisticated software program used in nuclear physics applications.
Fleckenstein was a summer intern with the Nuclear Engineering Student Laboratory Synthesis program at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). He continued a project he started in previous internships at ORNL designed to help him learn the surface plotting capabilities for the data visualization software called Javapeño.
His research this past summer will result in a new version of Javapeño, which is scheduled to be released with the next version of a software program called SCALE, the main program Javapeño supports.
When that version is released later this year, Fleckenstein will have already begun his master’s degree in computer science at the University of Tennessee (UT). A native of Three Rivers, Mich., Fleckenstein received his bachelor’s degree magna cum laude from Western Michigan University in December 2005 with a major in computer engineering and minors in philosophy, math and computer information systems.
Fleckenstein makes a clear distinction between computer engineering and computer science. “We computer engineers are the middle people,” he explained. “We are supposed to be able to work with both hardware and software people, possibly go between them and explain what the other group needs or wants.”
Fleckenstein plays middle man in his role at ORNL. “I am acting as the middle man between Javapeño and my mentor. Dr. [Bradley] Rearden knows the features he wants in Javapeño and the direction he wants to take it. I apply the changes and add the features, if possible. If not, I mediate a middle ground between what is possible and what is desired.”
Rearden, who wrote the first version of the software in 2001, is Fleckenstein’s mentor. Rearden named the software Javapeño, which is really an acronym for Java Plots Especially Nice Output.
Fleckenstein, who will take on the role of a graduate teaching assistant at UT, said the best part of the internship was contributing to a real software project at a national laboratory.
Fleckenstein encouraged other students, especially those interested in scientific research, to apply for the ORNL program. “[It] can open up new doors, or at the very least help you decide whether a research or lab setting is for you.”
Recent College Graduates Research Programs
- Advanced Short-Term Research Opportunity (ASTRO)
- Higher Education Research Experiences (HERE) for Students
- Nuclear Engineering Science Laboratory Synthesis (NESLS)
- ORNL Postdoctoral and Post-Master’s Research Associates Program
- Post-Bachelor’s Research Participation Program
- University Radioactive Ion Beam (UNIRIB) Consortium